In 2007-2008 NBA Finals, the Los Angeles Lakers fell to the Boston Celtics in six games, leaving Kobe Bryant short of his fourth championship. A report came out that while Bryant was in the shower after the game, fuming from the loss, a certain someone decided to abruptly walk in on him. Leave it to Metta World Peace, then known as Ron Artest, to pull a stunt like that.
“I want to come help you,” Artest said. “If I can, I’m going to find a way to come to LA and give you the help you need to win a title.”
To this day, Bryant still has no idea how Artest even got in the locker room that night. But let’s just say he wasn’t kidding around.
The following season, the Lakers ran into the Houston Rockets, the team Artest was then a part of, in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Artest had an enormous role in bringing the Lakers to seven games, averaging a solid 15.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 1.2 steals per game during that series, all while sticking one of the NBA’s greatest scorers in Bryant. The Lakers eventually won the series, and went on to win the championship, defeating Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic. Bryant got the fourth ring he was looking for, but he had no intention halting his desire for more rings.
At that time, the Lakers starting small forward was Trevor Ariza, a player they coveted for quite some time, due to his incredible athletic ability, length, ability to shoot the open three-pointer, and his youth. As for Ariza, he seemed to have let the success somewhat get to him, as he ended up taking a contract from the Rockets after that season, essentially to take over Artest’s spot, ironically leaving the small forward position door wide open for the Lakers. Sure enough, the Lakers took Artest up on his offer, and he became the newest Laker heading into the 2009-2010 season.
At the time of the transaction, Ariza had seemed to have the potential to be an NBA star, and Artest was almost on his last legs, so it wasn’t clear if he can truly fill that role quite like Ariza. As much of a goof he can be at times, let’s just say World Peace takes his basketball seriously. As the season prolonged, Artest seemed to have lost his shooting touch, lost a step on the defensive end, but certainly still had the drive and determination he played with his entire career.
So let’s fast forward towards the end of the season. The Lakers are facing the Celtics in the NBA Finals for the second time in the three years, coincidentally the team that beat the Lakers when Artest “crept” up on Kobe in the shower the previous year. Artest kept his promise, after being bombarded with criticism the entire season for not being the player he once was.
The Lakers were down 3-2, as their quest for back-to-back championships began to diminish right in front of our eyes. In game six, Artest stepped to have his best game of the series at that point, chipping in 15 points and six rebounds to help bring the series to game seven where Artest did the complete opposite of shying away from the bright lights.
Late in the third quarter, the Lakers seemed defeated, as they were down by 13 points, en route to another Celtics Finals loss, an unthinkable scenario for die-hard Lakers. Artest turned out to be one of the most vital pieces to that Lakers game seven comeback, hitting five incredibly important three-pointers, finishing with a series high 20 points, while recording five huge steals. The Lakers won the game, and Artest delivered the championship he told Bryant he wanted to give him two seasons before.
Why does this impact the Knicks today? No matter how much his skills have depleted over recent seasons, that “dog” in World Peace has gone nowhere. I listen to ESPN New York on a regular basis, and it bothers me how old school Knicks fans believe the only reason World Peace is here today is because the Knicks don’t mind trouble makers. It is time for that notion of World Peace to end, because he wants to win, and he wants to win for his home team.
World Peace is from New York and whatever role he’s plugged into, he’s going to give it his all. He’s going to prove to be an important piece to this Knicks rotation, even if it just means he’s an added source of toughness. The hard-nose player means nothing but business, and he’s genuine when he talks. Knicks fans, embrace this man, because no matter how much of a head-case he comes off as, he wants nothing more then to bring a world championship to the mecca of basketball, Madison Square Garden.